Sunday, May 29, 2011

East Hills Arroyo - Building up the Mileage

South towards the nameless hills beyond
I have a lot of cool excursions to write about but just don't have the motivation to do so. What I do have motivation for is to write about my running which has been picking up lately. I'd been off my feet since October with a severe case of tendonitis in a hip attachment. This was, in a funny and ironic twist, the same week I had the great idea to start logging trails and photos to this journal. I learned a couple of good lessons from this - the first being, don't run so much that you fry important connective tissue in your leg; and two, you don't need to run to appreciate a good trail - a bike, a pair of skis, or a hike with a lovely wife and dog will do just fine. Also, you don't need to be good with punctuation to write on the internet.

Windy trail and diffused light, a very good combination

Descending from the water tank, south profile of Atalaya

Alright, well in an effort to keep the running low key I've been sticking to the flat footpaths and arroyos around Casa de Dirt. On Wednesday impatience got the best of me and I drove up to St. Johns for a run up near the hills in the mostly flat arroyo they've got up there, I call it East Hills Arroyo because I don't know its real name. I guess it could be St. John's arroyo, or water tank arroyo. It doesn't really matter but it's an awesome arroyo for running and I was happy to be back up there after several months away. Sometimes I park behind the museums to add a few miles but generally you just park there at the St. John's trailhead. The trail winds down to the arroyo and then southeast through the hills.

Traffic signal - I don't usually trust crows but made an exception here
The arroyo actually cuts a bit of a canyon through here with Sun and Moon mountains rising up to the west and Atalaya and the surrounding hills towering high to the east. It's all pretty enjoyable. It can get uncomfortably cool in here on some days because it serves as a deep catchment for cooler air rolling off the hills. I never see many people after the turnoff to Atalaya. Sometimes I hear coyote howls but not on this day. As the arroyo narrows there are some sweet intermittent trails that cut through the willow islands and are fun to accelerate through. Island fartleks, good stuff. You pass an old dam that fills with willows or marsh or ice depending on the time of year. Right now it's dried dead marsh and looks like crap.

The willows demand speed! damnit. They must be appeased

The arroyo narrows some more and will eventually kick you out to the left (east) on some footpaths that will drop back down into the Barbaria Rd drainage. There's a little climbing here but I lie a little to myself and determine that it's flat. It's a nice change from the sandy footing of the arroyo, and the views ahead open up a little. If you stay to your right you cross through a nice bike trail that as far as I can tell goes nowhere except up behind some ridge homes and up to a water tank. There's got to be a link up from there to some other trails but I haven't found it just yet, in any case it's a good turn around point (~3mi) and there are great views of the Rio Grande Valley to take in before heading back.

Familiar silhouettes at sunset

The valley below

To sum up - trails are great and they're even better if you're running on them. Slow and easy is the plan so I can keep from moving backward. Feeling old and broken is not something I'm ready for just yet.

Related Post:  Barbaria Trail Loop - 18mi trail linkup (Jan '11)

View East Hills Arroyo - St Johns College, Santa Fe in a larger map

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Great Wall of China Marathon vs. My Brother

Madness of the Great Wall Marathon
My brother Sean had a battle royal with the Great Wall of China Marathon yesterday. Like a hoard of invading Mongols content to only run up-and-down the battlements rather than over and through, he along with some 500+ marathoners and 1500 half marathoners took up this rather serious challenge of quad busting pain. I haven't spoken with him about it yet but I'm glad he finished and hope that he made it to the line on two feet rather than all fours.

I think the course involved four loops over a section of the wall that includes 5,164 stairs in its entirety. So that's 5,164 up then 5,164 back down to end at the start/finish. I don't know how much net elevation gain goes into that but it all sounds a bit dastardly to me. Climbing all those steps sounds rough, descending all those suckers sounds like a pain-train to hell. The guy knows how to pick 'em.

Sean, training along the Arroyo Chamiso last month

So my bro was visiting for the few weeks before his trip and ran training sessions on the stairs of Ivan Head Stadium here in Santa Fe to prepare. His finishing time looks like 5hr 53m 29sec, good for 250th overall and 31st in his age-group. The overall winner rocketed home in 3:18:48, likely some pissed off Mongol looking for centuries of payback or something. That's a ridiculous time, also maybe a ridiculous and off-color stereotype.

Pain-train to hell, all aboard
This was my brother's third marathon after his debut at the Rwanda Peace Marathon in '08, and the Athens 2500th Anniversary of Marathon in '10. He has an unusual method of picking out his race destinations which I believe involves irrationality and lots of money to blow on a plane ticket. There could be alcohol involved as well, I really don't know. I think he's going to be holed up at a graduate school program in Kansas for the next year or two so he can mix in 26.2 in someplace strangely foreign but much closer to home.

Post Update:  My brother tells me he'd denied access to my race report here in the Chinese internet cafes. The Great Firewall of China is indeed greater than the Great Wall of China Marathon. He relays to me that I have his time wrong by two minutes and I ought to give them the hell back since the race was pure misery and masochistic hate. You don't say. Apparently his final three miles, which covered a section that ran downhill, took him 45min to complete. - HDD

Friday, May 20, 2011

Santa Fe Century - Ride Report

North through the Galisteo Basin, Sangres on the horizon
Pedaled like a freaking demon on Sunday trying to get the road bike out to Cedar Crest and Stanley and back just so we could hoist a few cold ones at the Eldorado SF Brewing Company Tap Room. The annual Santa Fe Century is a helluva lot of fun but I'm not going to pretend like 100mi isn't a haul because it is. The mileage might actually be 103mi in total. I logged ~97mi because I met my riding group en route and got a late start by a few minutes. About the ride itself, I don't care how fit you are an event like this is going to ding you up a little bit, unless you're Todd who rides into work from Eldorado everyday and didn't really seem phased by the whole thing. I saw Todd for a total of about 9min. during this 6+ hr ride. The guy was killin' it. Or maybe I was doggin' it? No, not possible - I was killin' it too just at a slower velocity than guys that prepared properly for the ride.

Our crew was myself, John Lumley, Todd Schroeder, Byron Rudolph, and ringer Liz Sponagle. Liz rode along with us to the 75mi loop cutoff out on NM 14 then circled back to head to work. I rode this event for the first time back in '09 and had a great time. Lumley has ridden the thing for five or six consecutive years now and has the jerseys to prove it. Tons of people get out for this ride and the aid stations are stacked, plus the cost of entry is $26 so you can't really beat that. Back on my first ride I had a real piece of work with downtube shifters and squeaking gears but somehow made it through. This year I rode a Greg-Lemond-detailed Schwinn loaner bike and managed just fine. People with awesome bikes get kinda surly when you cruise past on a hand painted beaut all buckled into a CamelBack but that there is stealth technology at its finest.

Todd and John wasting sandwich eating time at one of the aid stations

The test that is Heartbreak Hill, up and over the Cerrillos Hills

Galisteo Village Church
Back to the ride then - what a ride! The guys came up with the ingenius idea of starting and ending in Eldorado this year to take advantage of the new Tap Room location. We pretty much talked about beer throughout the entire ride. Aid stations were at Madrid, Golden (before Heartbreak Hill), Cedar Crest, Stanley, and Galisteo. I guess there were stations in Eldorado and St. Vincent's but we didn't stop there. Unlike on some running adventure suffer-fest, on a bike tour there are aid stations stocked with unlimited peanut butter sandwiches and fig newtons and trail mix and orange wedges and gatorade refills to woof down that you actually finish the thing feeling rather full. I guarantee I gained weight during the day, very counter-intuitive.

Todd, John, and Byron showing some fatigue

John mashing gears
I didn't see as many familiar faces as I did in '09. It may have been the time we got on the road, perhaps we didn't mill about the aid stations for quite as long. The wind was a bit rough so maybe that dampened rider-to-rider conversation. I did meet a rider from Florida that told me she did her hill training back and forth on bridge ramps for hours a week to simulate the climbing. Nonetheless I saw her walking the bike up Heartbreak - oh the heartbreak. Gotta own that one to make it count I think. The steady climb up and over the Cerrillos hills beginning in the village of Cerrillos and ending on the top of Heartbreak (20mi?) was a bit of a grind. But after that it's flat and fast all the way to Galisteo baby.

Todd & wife Jenn canvassing the day's events at the Tap Room patio
John and Susan, post-ride, mid-pint
The timing of the Century was great in that it got me ready for Ride-to-Work Week (four out of five days sons!) and was my main training for this weekend's Cochiti 100MTB, part of the NM Endurance Series. Todd, Jim, Byron and I are planning to ride 67fmi of the 108mi course but I have little doubt that Cochiti is going to destroy me and most likely my one-foot-in-the-grave mountain bike. Gotta bust out the mad biking skills and defy the gods. 

For a listing of other area road rides try here - Santa Fe Area Cycling Routes
For better photos of the actual ride try this report here.

View Santa Fe Century Bike Tour - 103mi. in a larger map

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Caroline Rotich and the Santa Fe area Elite Training Group

Aron Rono and Caroline Rotich, courtesy of
Update: Caroline is the new 2015 Boston Marathon Champion.

| Got to meet a solid group of local elites on Tuesday at a planning meeting/dinner for the upcoming Santa Fe Run Around. Friend Ryan Bolton has moved into a coaching position for some of the recently disbanded AmeriKenyan athletes and was at the meeting along with Aron Rono, Patrick Kemboi, and Abebe Yimmer.

Caroline in NY, courtesy of
I thought Caroline Rotich was going to be there but she couldn't make it. Caroline has been training in town for several years now and is starting to light it up on the majors circuit. She's coming off a 9th place finish at the New York Marathon last Nov. (2:29:46), a 1st place and new course record at the New York half-marathon in March (1:08:52), and a 4th place finish at the Boston Marathon three weeks back (2:24:26). At both the New York half and at Boston she bested cover-girl and Alberto Salazar coached athlete Kara Goucher (CU alum). So what we have here is:  Caroline > Kara, Bolton > Salazar, Santa Fe > Eugene. That's what I'm talking about. 

In any case, Caroline couldn't make the dinner. Apparently she's vacationing out in Lubbock this week which is particularly awesome.
  1. Professional career rocking - check.
  2. New PR - check.
  3. Two top ten finishes in a marathon major over the last six months - check.
  4. Solidly on the list of favorites for New York this fall - check.
Sweet, I think I'll head to Lubbock for a little R&R.

Abebe Yimmer was gearing up for the upcoming US 25km championships in Grand Rapids May 14th. He's the Ethiopian rep in the group but gained US citizenship recently so he'll be competing for his first US title in Grand Rapids. I asked him how he was feeling, if he was in form or what - and he was like 'oh yeah man, it's all good, training is great, I'm going to do great'. Funny as hell. I asked him what the plan was, if he was going to push the pace or mark the leaders, drop surges or what - he just said he was going to make it a race, nothing to worry about. The guy has good style.

Rono's collegiate days
Aron Rono was just out racing in Stanford at the Payton Jordan Invitational. The guy mixed it up in a blazin' 10,000m that had 19 guys run under the 28min mark. Finished 11th in 27:31. That is 'effin crazy fast. He didn't take down American runners Bobby Curtis or Matt Tegenkamp who finished just before him but did nip World Champ medalist Tahri of France. Aron ran to four consecutive NAIA 10,000m titles in college so he's a pretty bad dude on the track. He helped rabbit the 5000m at the Prefontaine Classic last May. I don't remember asking him where he was racing next but I did get to meet his new fiance. I think he made it to last year's Run Around dinner as well so he's been training in the Santa Fe area for at least a couple years now. A pretty cool guy.

Patrick Kemboi was preparing for a race in Indianapolis I believe. I don't know him that well but Ryan told a funny story about dueling with the guy in college. Ryan apparently has this photo from XC nationals of himself running in a pack of what turned out to be several future Olympians. They're positioning themselves for the final kilometer of the race. Patrick sees the photo and recognizes not just the runners but also where in the race the photo was taken, noting that he was not in frame because he was up ahead running faster than all those chumps. Great story.

In any case, Santa Fe is stepping up as a training area for some serious top level athletes. You've got to think other athletes and coaches are beginning to notice, pretty sure Salazar and Goucher have. Ryan tells me that Caroline is fixated on winning New York, which would be huge. Ibrahim Hussein huge for New Mexico at least. Until then she's awaiting offers from Chicago and Berlin to see if that's where she'll be running in the Fall.

See Also: 
  - Caroline Rotich Races to Boston Lore ('15)
  - Rotich Running Daegu ('11)
  - Luminaries on the Rail Trail
  - Chasing Antelope on Foot - Outside Magazine (May '11)


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